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Public Communications (MS-11)
614 Division Street, Port Orchard, WA
Phone: 360.337.4598

Date: December 18, 2006
Contact: PJ Callahan
Phone: (360) 337-4481
No. 06-106

County Administrator Accepts New Post in Minnesota

PORT ORCHARD, WA—Cris Gears, Kitsap County administrator and former county parks director, will be leaving his current position at the end of February to return to his home state, where he will take the helm of the Three Rivers Park District, Minnesota's largest regional park system.

"This unexpected offer from the Three Rivers Board is truly a once-in-a-lifetime career opportunity for someone who is still a 'parks guy' at heart," said Gears. "Although my wife, Donna, and I love living and working in Kitsap County, I was eventually unable to overlook the opportunity to lead this world-class park system."

Gears will be leaving a position he has held since the Board of County Commissioners selected him as county administrator in February 2005. Under broad policy direction from the board, the county administrator serves as the chief administrative officer of the county and direct manager for departments reporting to the board, including Community Development, Public Works, Personnel and Human Services, Administrative Services, Information Services and Facilities, Parks and Recreation.

Since arriving in Kitsap in 1998 to serve as the county's director of Facilities, Parks and Recreation, Gears has been recognized as the driving force behind many county projects and service improvement initiatives.

"Cris played a key leadership role in acquiring unique open spaces to ensure that future generations would enjoy the county’s bountiful natural resources and scenic beauty," said Commissioner Chris Endresen. "Cris has been a marvelous asset to Kitsap County. I know this is a dream position for Cris, but it is really hard to lose him.”

In his facilities role, Gears provided oversight of major county construction initiatives, supervising project managers on various projects such as the new Public Works Annex, new county Administration Building and renovation of the aging County Courthouse.

"Cris was also instrumental in updating aging county facilities," said Commissioner Patty Lent. "Without his efforts in creating and fostering a partnership with the Kitsap Public Facilities District to enable us to capture state revenues, we would not have been able to transform the county fairgrounds into a year-round, first-class events center for sports and entertainment. I will miss his calming demeanor and effervescent sense of humor."

Even after leaving his parks position, Gears remained a steadfast supporter of the Kitsap Fair and Stampede, where he had hired professional event planners to boost attendance and set goals to make it self-supporting. During his tenure, the stampede was selected for two years running as the Best Rodeo in the Columbia River Circuit and, more recently, was twice nominated as Rodeo of the Year by the PRCA.

"Cris always looked for better, faster or less expensive ways to provide service to the public, such as consolidating facilities and park maintenance functions to enhance efficiency without reducing service levels." said Commissioner Jan Angel. "But what I'll miss most about him is that he consistently helped the board to focus on high priorities and the things that matter most to the citizens of Kitsap, and always with a wonderful, positive attitude. I will miss him greatly."

Three Rivers is a multi-county 27,000-acre regional park system that promotes environmental stewardship through recreation and education in the western portion of the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Gears will serve as the Superintendent of the District, providing leadership to an organization with 350 regular employees and approximately 1,300 seasonal employees. Three Rivers has an annual operating budget of $36.8 million and a current annual capital budget of $23.6 million.

Gears originally came to Kitsap County through a national search in 1998, leaving his home state of Minnesota where he had served in the capacity of Director of Parks and Recreation for the City of St. Louis Park (1988-1998) and prior to that as City Manager for the City of Excelsior (1985 to 1988).

To contact the Kitsap County Public Information Office, 
call PJ Callahan at 360-337-4481 or email:

Last Updated: May 27, 2014